Methodological Individualism for the Twenty-first century? The Neoliberal Acculturation and Remoralisation of the Poor in Aotearoa New Zealand

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Abstract

This article examines the enduring influence of the principle of methodological individualism in New Zealand society, following thirty years of neoliberal economic policies. It contextualises this examination within the global financial crisis of 2008-2011 and the debate as to whether this crisis signalled the start of a post-neoliberal epoch. Drawing upon welfare reforms over the past sixteen years, it argues that, within New Zealand, neoliberalism has become more entrenched than ever, manifest in the persistent remoralisation of those defined as poor and through the ways in which the principle of methodological individualism is frequently invoked as a solution to the challenges presented by neoliberal welfare entrenchment. Though it acknowledges neoliberalism as a contested political project, this article supports the view that continuities in successive National and Labour government welfare reforms in housing, child welfare, and social security have embedded a neoliberal culture of disparagement for those deemed unsuitable or unable to participate in the market.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-82
Number of pages21
JournalSites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2015

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